From us to you with a little help from Curtis, Happy Valentine’s Day.
From us to you with a little help from Curtis, Happy Valentine’s Day.
Our friend Greg Hatten writes about his “home water,” Oregon’s McKenzie River. Greg uses our Yakima Camp blankets and National Park Series blankets on his expeditions. You can learn more about the Parks and the blankets they have inspired here. But for now, just enjoy a trip on the river with Greg.
The McKenzie River in the Cascade Range of Oregon is my “home – water” – it’s where I learned to row a drift boat and where I feel the most comfortable on the oars. Her icy waves, aqua pools, moss covered boulders and challenging rapids bring me back again and again. It’s a rock garden playground for a wood drift boat and a 90 mile paradise for native redside rainbow trout as the river makes its way down the valley and folds into the Willamette River on its way to the Pacific Ocean.
Tall stands of Douglas fir, western hemlock and red cedar line the banks and steep hills forming a solid curtain of subtle shades of green on both sides of the river. As the McKenzie cuts through the Willamette National Forest, there are small pockets and openings within the dense trees to camp alongside the river.
For 8,000 years, this river was home to Native Americans – mostly of the Kalapuya and the Molala tribes. In 1812 it was explored by the Pacific Fur Company and was named for the expedition leader, Donald Mackenzie.
Camping in canvas and wool seems appropriate in this place and my mind drifts back in time 200 years as I set up the tent in a small clearing of towering trees. With so little evidence of civilization around us, it’s easy to wonder what those explorers in 1812 experienced as they reached this spot on the river, what they saw, how they camped, how they fished, and cooked and ate.
I spread a Pendleton blanket (Badlands National Park) over the floor of the teepee tent, unfurled the cowboy bedrolls and enjoyed the coziness of the shelter for a moment before starting a campfire . The oars from the boat become a triangle “lamp stand” when lashed together and the camp lantern hanging above our campsite gives off a warm glow casting playful shadows on the ground and tent. It’s a comfortable camp filled with nostalgia and authenticity.
Most of my river guests prefer an overnight experience that includes running water, indoor toilets, soft beds, clean sheets, and WIFI. Not these guests! These guests requested a unique and rustic adventure filled with wood boats, canvas tents, wool blankets, and warm campfires. They wanted to get away from cell phones, computers, and modern conveniences. It’s an unfiltered McKenzie River experience they seek – a direct connection to the explorers and pioneers that originally explored this McKenzie River Valley.
That evening we ate smoked salmon, fresh vegetables, pasta, and organic strawberries that were so sweet they tasted like they’d been soaking in a brine of sugar water. After dinner the smoky smell of the campfire complemented the scotch we drank as we talked about the day and made our plans for the next.
Our canvas tent and bedrolls sat on a layer of pine needles and loose soil that created such a soft quiet cushion, sleep came easy. We inhaled the evergreen aroma of pine and I wondered if it was the same smell two hundred years ago. The sounds of the running river were close enough to hear but not close enough to disturb as we slumbered away under a canopy of dark swaying boughs overhead.
Morning came early and we broke camp quickly so we could get to the pressing business of river running in a wood boat. The Class III Marten’s Rapid was on our river agenda and on my mind all morning as we navigated minor rapids and fished our way to the top of this most treacherous rapid on the McKenzie. As usual, we heard it before we saw it with its low growl that warned of danger. Two days before us, a drift boat hit the left wall so hard it left a mark on the rock – the moment of impact was captured by a photographer below the rapid and the picture was plastered all over web sites and facebook.
When the river is low in mid summer, the slot gets narrow and the holes get deep so we pull into an eddy behind “house rock” at the top of the rapid to catch our breath and confirm our line. The path looks more complicated than usual. We pushed out of the eddy and picked up speed. We put the nose of the boat as close to the “can opener” rock as possible and then pulled hard to miss it by a foot. A rebounding wave off the rock knocked us off course a little and sent us flying towards the wall on the left. Digging the oars deep, slowed the boat just enough to narrowly miss the wall. We immediately dropped into a series of sharp swells that tried to swallow the boat and soaked us with breaking waves over the prow. It was a roller coaster ride with two big holes at the bottom, which we threaded and then pulled over to dry off and bail water out of the boat. Quite a ride!!
Some of my favorite rapids on the river are below Marten’s. They are technical but not brutal and the boat moved with elegance – threading rocks, skirting eddies and working in perfect harmony with the river. The afternoon was hot and sunny as we settled into a rhythm of rowing rapids and fly fishing for trout.
The last fish brought to the boat that day was a beautiful native redside rainbow trout, a fitting end to a throw-back adventure of Canvas & Wool on the McKenzie.
Welcome to Caturday, courtesy of the @pendletonwm Instagram.
When we put this post together, we realized that four of the shots are of the same kitty! #Skogkatt is photogenic, as seen here on one of the special blankets we’ve done for the Ace Hotel.
A cat isn’t usually much for camping, but can totally enjoy one of our Yakima Camp blankets.
This pretty Blue has a transfixing gaze, and a Journey West blanket as a background.
Here’s Skogkatt again, looking very mid-century.
We wonder if this cat’s people selected this Basket Dance blanket in part because it coordinates so perfectly with this tabby.
Inquisitive tri-color on a Chief Joseph blanket.
Another Chief Joseph, another tri-color. This is very nap-inspiring, yes?
Tri-color kitten, and one of the special throws we did for One King’s Lane.
#Skogkatt returns, having taken over the crafting basket. You can learn about our fabrics and other craft supplies at our Woolen Mill Store.
That’s all we have for #caturday. We would like to point out that the #pendledogs are winning, on Instagram. We thought cats ruled the internet?
More fun facts about wool from another one of our old Education & Testing Department pieces:
Wool has been an integral part of human life and culture. One of its nicknames is the fiber of civilization.
The sheep industry began in central Asia over 10,000 years ago.
Wool-spinning began in 3500 BC. The first sheep were black; white sheep were a genetic exception that became highly prized because they produce dyeable fiber. Today, black sheep are the genetic exception.
In biblical times, wool was used to collect water; a fleece was left out overnight in the desert to draw dew, to be wrung out the next morning.
Wool fiber has overlapping scales. When heat, moisture and pressure are applied, the scales interlock into an irreversible tangle, as you may have discovered if you ever accidentally washed and dried your favorite wool sweater. This is called “felting.”
Wool was probably first used in felted form as lining for helmets and armor, padding for sandals, cushions for riding horses and camels, and as durable, portable housing for nomadic peoples.
For Asian nomads, wool was so important that in the fourth century, the Chinese called their territory “the land of felt.”
Today, felt is used in felt-tip pens, industrial applications, garments and heavy-duty wool blankets.
The Politics of Wool:
Spain recognized the commercial value of wool, making it a capital offense to export merino sheep.
England’s first great industry was wool. In the Middle Ages, it was the natrion’s largest export resource, with every European country relying on England for wool.
Germany eventually broke England’s hold on the wool market in 1765, when a Spanish king sent 92 rams and 128 ewes to Germany. By the turn of that century, Germany was flooding England’s wool market.
The Medici family of Florence, Italy built their wealth on the wool trade. Their banking industry allowed them the financial ease to offer patronage to artists like Dante, da Vinci and Michelangelo.
Australia’s economy is based on wool and sheep. The first sheep arrived in Australia in 1788 on an English ship full of convicts.
The American Revolution was in part ignited by a stiff tariff imposed to restrict American wool trade to England.
“Dyed in the wool” means genuine and permanent.
To “fleece him” means to swindle him.
To “pull the wool over his eyes” is to fool him.
“Shoddy” is also a wool reference. The term meant re-used wool in Civil War times, and became associated with inferior workmanship.
A “spinster” was an unmarried woman who earned her keep by spinning wool.
A “wolf in sheep’s clothing” is a predator disguised with gentleness.
A “bellwether” is the lead sheep in a flock, and is used to note a change or new direction.
More fun facts about the properties of wool will be coming your way this month, because January is a wonderful month for staying warm, and wool does that so well.
We are so proud of our Ducks. It’s been a fantastic season. And if you are wondering, yes, we had the blanket designed and the loom threaded in yellow and green. It would have been a wonderful moment to hit that switch and run those blankets, but there’s always next season.
As you know, we are a family owned and operated concern, with that family being the Bishops. The Bishop family goes way back with University of Oregon football. In 1894, the University of Oregon’s first football team took the field. They were known as the Webfoots back then, after a group of Massachusetts fishermen who played heroic roles in the American Revolutionary War. The U of O Webfoots didn’t score a touchdown that first season, but Oregonians are tough. They came back ready to play in 1895.
Below is a team photo of the 1895 team (the ball is proudly emblazoned with that player’s upcoming year of graduation). In both photos, he is second from the right in the lower row, wearing a turtleneck and one of the less outrageous haircuts sported by the players, is young Clarence Morton Bishop. And wouldn’t you know it, he is credited with making the first touchdown in the school’s collegiate football games in 1895.
Below is another archival item on the football career of “the first Mort” as he is referred to around here. Click for a larger view.
And hey. GO DUCKS!
We are Pendleton Woolen Mills, and wool is what we do. So here are some amazing wool facts for you, courtesy of us, from our trusty “Wool, A Natural” booklet, a little classroom staple for many years now.
Wool is a Miracle Fiber that Stands the Test of Time
Wool is a natural fiber, growing from the follicles of sheep. In a time of sustainability and environmental consciousness, this renewable resource remains longer-lasting and better looking than anything man-made. Even though advanced processing methods have made wool more versatile and easy care, man has not improved the miracle fiber itself.
Wool is Naturally Resilient and Wrinkle Resistant
This is due to the ability of the fiber to spring back into shape after bending, creasing, or compression. Resilience gives wool its ability to hold a shape, resist wrinkles and withstand wear. This makes wool great for travel. It resists tearing because it’s flexible. Wool can bend back on itself 20,000 times without breaking (cotton only 3200 times before breaking/silk 1800 times/rayon only 75 times). Wool can be stretched or twisted and its cells return to their original position.
Wool is Naturally Comfortable
Wool fibers cannot be packed down. They spring back to shape keeping their open, porous nature. Wool provides the most warmth with the least weight. The air that is trapped inside (about 80% of wool fabric volume) makes wool an excellent insulator to keep the body at its normal temperature year round: warm in winter and cool in summer. Wool is the original outdoor “performance” fiber.
Wool is Naturally Water and Stain Repellent
Wool repels light water, like a rain shower, because of the membrane on the outer scales. In very wet conditions, wool absorbs up to 30% of its own weight without feeling damp. And because of insulation ability, wool “breathes,” allowing the body’s natural moisture to pass through. The hairy surface of wool and its freedom from static make it the easiest of all fabrics to keep clean or to clean after soiling.
Wool Maintains its Luster and Resists Fading
Wool has a permanent natural luster it never loses even after years of hard wear. It absorbs dyes until it is completely saturated so colors stay brilliant in spite of sunshine, perspiration and impurities in the atmosphere. No other fiber can be spun or woven into such a variety of weights, textures, finishes and colors.
Wool is Naturally Flame Retardant
Unless it is in direct contact with flame, wool will extinguish itself. The denser the weave and the greater the fabric weight, the less likely it is even to char because of its smaller oxygen content. Fire departments and insurance companies recommend the use of wool blankets, rugs or coats to put out flames.
We will be bringing you more fun facts about wool this month, because January is an excellent month for keeping warm.
A beautiful Husky on a Chief Joseph blanket.
Just hanging out with the people.
Loki the wolf dog is one of our favorites. He lives a rugged outdoor lifestyle with his person.
Here’s a charming smile for you.
Looking dapper in a kerchief, this blue-eyed beauty takes modeling very seriously.
A Golden fashion statement.
He looks a little guilty, as if he can’t quite believe his luck.
A Labradoodle on a Pendleton Chimayo throw.
Shy is a wee pup now, but we know she’s going to grow up to be big dog.
Same with Foster, who is enamored of his Pendleton scrap toy.
Connie the Corgi is a blue-eyed charmer with his own Instagram account.
He has a true love of Pendleton.
He is a playful fellow.
And quite well-dressed in his flannel plaid.
When he is worn out, he appears to appreciate relaxing on Pendleton’s Made in the USA wool blankets.
Especially if Dad is around.
We think Connie looks like he’s a lot of fun.
Connie, thanks for your brand support. And go fetch that ball.